Whitehorse Daily Star

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PROPOSAL UNDER REVIEW – The government is currently contemplating whether it will fund a new track and field complex behind F.H. Collins. The proposal is being screened by the assessment board. Photo courtesy YESAB

Government thinking about money for new track and field

Sport Yukon president George Arcand says the community will know in early March whether the replacement of the track and field behind F.H. Collins High School is a go.

By Chuck Tobin on February 9, 2018

Sport Yukon president George Arcand says the community will know in early March whether the replacement of the track and field behind F.H. Collins High School is a go.

Arcand said Thursday he’s been assured by Community Services Minister John Streicker the answer will be in the 2018-2019 territorial budget.

The legislature is scheduled to begin the spring sitting on March 1. Premiers typically use the first day to deliver their capital and operations and maintenance budgets for the upcoming fiscal year.

Arcand said he has impressed upon Streicker that they need to know about the funding as Sport Yukon is planning to bid in May to host the 55+ Games scheduled for August 2020.

It’s not possible to bid without a new track and field facility, Arcand said.

He said when Whitehorse hosted the Games in 2004, they used the old track and field where the new F.H. Collins is now located.

The temporary track and field put in behind the high school does not meet the required standards, Arcand said.

He said when they met with the minister after Christmas, he told them the matter of funding for the new track and field would be going to the cabinet for discussion.

Streicker said if the project was approved, the money would be identified in the upcoming territorial budget, Arcand said.

Cabinet communication officer Janine Workman said this morning a cost estimate for the project was not available.

The project includes a new eight-lane rubberized track with the interior field made of artificial turf. It also includes new shot put and long jump facilities.

It does not provide for the other athletic disciplines of the javelin throw, discus throw and the hammer throw, as these events cannot be held on the artificial turf, and there is no other clearing large enough in the immediate area to accommodate the events.

Tracey Bilsky, Sport Yukon’s executive director, said Thursday she does not believe it will be difficult to accommodate those events. It could be as simple as having the athletes jump in a golf cart and head over to the soccer pitch behind Selkirk Elementary, she said.

A former proposal for an eight-lane rubberized track and two artificial soccer pitches in the new Whistle Bend subdivision carried an initial estimate of $8 million, though it was later reduced to $5.5 million. The former Yukon Party government was fully committed to fund the project. Athletics Yukon and the city’s soccer community was in strong support of the proposal. City council, however, turned down the zoning request out of fear the ongoing cost of maintaining the new sports complex would fall to the city.

The Yukon Environmental and Socio-economic Assessment Board is currently seeking public input on the proposal. It calls for clearing almost half a hectare or one acre of trees between the temporary track and field and the Yukon River to accommodate the new track and field, and a new access road. The proposal calls for construction to begin this spring, with completion scheduled for the fall of 2019. The board is accepting comments until Feb. 20.

Don White of Athletics Yukon said this week it’s regretful the proposal does not provide for the javelin, discus and hammer throw.

But it is a start for now, and finding a means of accommodating those events will be something to focus on down the road, he said.

Bilsky said Thursday while the soccer community would have liked two fields of artificial turf, they are in support of this proposal.

There is a large potential for tourism generated by a new track and field, such as hosting the hundreds of participants in the 55+ Games, she pointed out.

The Games include everything from track and field to softball, from contract bridge to darts, from cycling to horseshoes.

Arcand said when Whitehorse hosted the Games in 2004, approximately 1,200 participants attended. These days attendance can get up to 2,000, he said.

“If we host in 2020, we would expect to see somewhere between 1,600 and 2,000 athletes.”

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